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No Vaccine, No Service: Chicago Mandates Vaccination for Most Indoor Public Spaces

Zack Miller | The PhoenixChicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a vaccine requirement for most indoor public spaces starting Jan. 3.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced individuals will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues, the new mandate will go into effect on Jan. 3 Lightfoot said in a press conference Tuesday.

The requirement will apply to all individuals ages five and up. The city is still not requiring workers at these businesses to be vaccinated, but they will be subject to mask mandates and will have to provide weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test if they are not vaccinated..

The city defines a full vaccination as either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single dose Johnson and Johnson shot, and doesn’t include a booster shot. 

“New steps must be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “This public health order requiring proof of vaccination to visit certain indoor public places is a necessary measure to ensure we can continue to enjoy our city’s many amenities as we enter the new year.”

The vaccine requirement doesn’t include churches, schools, grocery stores, airports and office buildings according to Lightfoot’s statement.

Other cities across the country, such as New York and Los Angeles, have instituted similar guidelines for indoor dining and gyms, as the Associated Press reported. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), 68% of eligible Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated.

In a televised speech Dec. 21, President Joe Biden urged eligible Americans to get their booster shots as the Omicron variant continues to spread. 

This announcement comes as COVID-19 cases have dramatically increased in Illinois and nationwide, as a result of the emergence of the new Omicron variant. Early data from South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), suggests that Omicron spreads twice as fast as the Delta variant. According to the CDC, the Omicron variant now makes up 73% of new COVID-19 cases in the US.

On Dec. 21 state health officials reported 10,264 new cases of the virus to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). the 7-day average for new cases sits at 10,590 as of Dec. 21, this number is up significantly from the 2,229 7-day average recorded Nov. 1, according to the IDPH.

Chicago is now experiencing more than 60 new hospitalizations and 10 COVID-19 related deaths every day according to the Mayor’s press release.

Loyola’s test positivity rate had reached its highest point since Nov. 2020, The Phoenix reported on Dec. 20. The university’s positivity rate has gone up since then and now sits at 8.2% according to Loyola’s COVID Dashboard.

The Mayor’s Office said that any individuals or businesses seeking more information and guidance on the new mandates should visit Chicago.gov/COVID.

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